By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
It will take a runoff to nominate a Republican candidate in the ongoing process to elect the next legislator for District 11 in the Alabama House of Representatives.
Randall Shedd will face Danny Alldredge in a March 26 runoff election to determine a Republican challenger to face Democrat Kelly Evans in a general election set for May 7.
For much of the night, Shedd seemed destined to finish with a clear win. But as the final boxes were counted, it became clear the two top candidates would have to refocus their campaigns for another six weeks.
“I expected it to be a runoff, really,” said Shedd. “I had always expected it would be. I’m very humbled by the support and hard work of so many people — our senior citizens, my family, and everyone else from all walks of life. And we’re going to work hard in this runoff to earn people’s vote.”
Alldredge, too, wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“I felt like there would be a runoff, and Randall and I — both of us have been able to stay positive about this as we’ve run together,” Alldredge said. “I feel good about the outcome of things, with a runoff election, and I just am looking forward to the remainder of it.”
Even though their aspirations ended Tuesday, Haynes and Graves each said they’d enjoyed the experience of getting to know the other candidates, and of hearing voters’ concerns, and were proud of the races they’d run.
Haynes asked those who voted for her to support Alldredge in the March 26 runoff.
“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all of those people who believed in me, supported me and voted for me,” said Haynes. “I would ask that, if you believed in me, to now believe in Danny Alldredge. He is a fine man and a good and faithful servant to God.”
Haynes added that she was grateful for the opportunity to make Graves’ acquaintance, describing her former opponent as “one of those people who will always make a difference.”
In the hubbub of post-election activity Tuesday evening, Graves said it was too early to discuss whether he’d seek office in the future, but described his first foray into local politics as a positive learning experience.
“It’s my first time to run, and I enjoyed all the candidates and had a good time,” he said. “I met some good people on the campaign trail. There are people asking me about the future, you know, and — we’ll see. The first time out, you learn a lot.”
District 11 covers portions of Cullman, Blount and Morgan counties, but its most populous area lies in Cullman County. The turnout reflected that fact Tuesday, with Cullman County voters casting 3,034 ballots, followed by Blount County (493 ballots) and Morgan County (291 ballots).
Despite taking a clear majority vote in Cullman County — as well as finishing 743 total votes ahead of Alldredge, Shedd wasn’t able to end the three-county race with an overall majority.
In Alabama elections with more than two candidates, a runoff is necessary when no candidate is able to earn 50 percent — plus a single extra vote — of the total votes cast.
In Cullman County, Shedd took 52.21 percent of the vote (1,584 votes), followed by Alldredge with 25.68 percent (779 votes), Lydia Haynes with 16.38 percent (497 votes) and Mike Graves with 5.74 percent (174 votes).
Shedd also eked out a narrow win in Morgan County, finishing with 93 votes. Graves came in second with 77 votes, followed by Haynes (64 votes) and Alldredge (57 votes).
It was a different story in Blount County, where Alldredge outgained Shedd 221 votes to 123. Haynes followed closely with 122 votes, while Graves took 27 votes.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley called the special election cycle to fill the House seat vacated by longtime Republican representative Jeremy Oden, who left the legislature last November to accept an appointment to the state Public Service Commission.
The runoff effectively eliminates the likelihood that the next District 11 representative will have much to do in this year’s legislative session. With the general election now set for May 7, the newly-elected representative will enjoy only two weeks in office before the regular session ends on May 20.
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.